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Russian Cargo Craft Departure Clears Way for Next Delivery

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Feb 3, 2014 8:43 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 38 crew said farewell to an unpiloted Russian cargo craft Monday morning while making preparations for the arrival of the next space freighter, which is set to make an expedited 6-hour journey to the International Space Station Wednesday.

The ISS Progress 52 cargo ship undocked from the Pirs docking compartment 11:21 a.m. EST, and backed away to a safe distance from the orbital complex to begin several days of tests to study thermal effects of space on its attitude control system.

Progress 52 delivered nearly three tons of supplies when it arrived at the station on July 27. Now filled with trash and other unneeded items, the Russian resupply ship will be commanded to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere Feb. 11 and disintegrate harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

The departure of Progress 52 clears Pirs for the arrival of the next Russian cargo ship, ISS Progress 54, which rolled out to its launch pad early Monday morning at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as temperatures hovered around 17 below zero F.  The vehicle is scheduled to launch on Wednesday at 11:23 a.m. (10:23 p.m. Baikonur time) on an accelerated 4-orbit journey to dock to Pirs at 5:25 p.m.  The new Progress is loaded with 1,764 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water and 2,897 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies  for the Expedition 38 crew.

Station Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin spent Monday morning conducting a training session with the Telerobotically Operated Rendezvous Unit, or TORU, which could be used to remotely guide Progress 54 to its docking port in the event that its Kurs automated rendezvous system experiences a problem.

Along with Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy, Kotov also participated in the Splanh experiment, a Russian study of the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the digestive system.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio, who began his day with a vision test, spent much of his morning installing and activating a NanoRacks platform and multi-gas monitor. NanoRacks provides lower-cost microgravity research facilities for small payloads utilizing a standardized “plug-and-play” interface. Mastracchio also connected a keyboard and video monitor for NanoRacks.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata conducted an ultrasound scan of the calf and thigh of his right leg for the Sprint study.  This experiment is evaluating effectiveness of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training in minimizing the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs during long-term exposure to weightlessness. Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins assisted Wakata with the experiment session.

Wakata also participated in a vision check-up, as medical teams on the ground keep a watchful eye on the crew’s health.

Hopkins focused most of his attention on preparing the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus within the Combustion Integrated Rack for more experiments studying how different materials burn in microgravity. Hopkins replaced the fuel reservoirs, igniter tips and fiber arm inside the chamber insert assembly of the apparatus.

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